At first blush, 48-year-old rapper Jay-Z and 87-year-old investor Warren Buffett may seem like opposites: Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, grew up during the 1970s in public housing in Brooklyn, New York. Buffett was raised in the '30s in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of a stockbroker and congressman. Carter is an artist and Buffett loves numbers.
And yet, the pair have more in common than their outrageous success (Carter's net worth is estimated to be more than $900 million and Buffett's tops $81 billion). The two share a mindset that they say has been critical in business: long-term thinking.
"It's the discipline not to get caught up in the moment," Carter told Forbes in a 2010 joint interview with Buffett.
There's always "the hot thing of the moment," Carter explained.
In music, it's "a hot, electro sound, or the hot auto-tune voice or the hot whatever's new and exciting," he said. In Buffett's world, it could be whatever stock is up.
"People tend to make emotional decisions based on that," Carter told Forbes. "They don't stick with what they know, you know, 'This is who I am. This is what I do.' They jump on this next hot thing.
"People fall in love with shiny things."
But being shortsighted isn't the way to build lasting success, say the pair.
"What you need is emotional stability," Buffett told Forbes during the interview with Carter. "You have to be able to think independently, and when you come to a conclusion you have to really not care what other people say. Just follow the facts and your reasoning."
For Carter, who released album "Everything Is Love" with Beyoncé on June 16, "It's just having the discipline, and the confidence in who I am," he told Forbes. "If I go into a studio and find my truth of the moment, there are a number of people in the world who can relate to what I'm saying, and are going to buy into what I'm doing. Not because it's the new thing of the moment, but because it's genuine emotion."
With Buffett, it's evident in his "buy and hold" investing style.
"If you aren't willing to own a stock for ten years, don't even think about owning it for ten minutes," Buffett wrote in his 1996 letter to shareholders for Berkshire Hathaway.
"The money is made in investments by investing," Buffett told CNBC in 2016, "and by owning good companies for long periods of time. If [investors] buy good companies, buy them over time, they're going to do fine 10, 20, 30 years from now."
It's true that Buffett has missed out on investing in buzzy companies that later turned out to be winners, like Amazon and Google ("The problem is when I think something will be a miracle, I tend not to bet on it," he said at the Berkshire Hathaway 2018 annual shareholder meeting in May). But big picture, Berkshire Hathaway has performed enormously: Its rising market value generated a 20.9 percent annual return from 1965 to 2017. In that time, the S&P 500 returned only 9.9 percent.
"It never bothered me if people disagreed with what I thought," Buffet told Forbes, "as long as I felt I knew the facts."
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